Since far too often we only publicly say nice things about people when they are dead I’ve decided to randomly pick a Facebook friend every day and say something nice about them.
June 7, 2019
Today’s person: Julian Lopez-Morillas!
Julian does not have Velina’s lips. I’m sure his wife loves them, and perhaps he is known far and wide for his kisses, but somehow they just didn’t do it for me. Maybe it was the beard.
First time I dealt with Julian was during the Non-Traditional Casting Conference way back in the ‘80’s. I was a beginning actor and he cast me in a scene from a play - I think it was Hay Fever - to be performed at the conference. I was astounded that this fiery, intellectual, pin you to a wall with his eyes, gargantuan of an event of a person even knew who the hell I was, and that he trusted me enough get across the possibilities of casting.
A couple years later I was an apprentice at Berkeley Shakespeare and I got to see Julian in his environment - The Classics. Julian is almost a man out of time, a towering anachronism who has stepped into this century directly from the 14th or 15th, from a time when language was an art and words made worlds. All he needs is the words.
And this was never truer than in the two-hander we did together - in which he spent a great deal of the time seated on throne - his voice, his mind, his words commanding the room. He was fun to watch, and so much fun to work with. And despite his years of brilliant work and the wealth of well-earned respect from the community of actors, directors, and audiences I never felt condescended to, never felt lesser then, never felt anything but that I was sharing an adventure with a real partner.
Right up until he slipped me the tongue on closing night.
I mean, one of us was going to do it. I’m Jesus, he’s the Grand Inquisitor, it’s the penultimate moment of the play, I give him a full, loving kiss - at some point the tongue was gonna happen. He just beat me to it.
And since then, when I run into this master actor there is a moment when we both seem to consider if we should just kiss. Velina is used to it.